A church experiencing growth is an exciting and awesome thing, but expanding your facilities to meet your ministry’s needs can be a challenge.
We spoke to Josh Brannon, Executive Director of Operations at Gateway Fellowship Church in San Antonio, Texas, about their church expansion process and what he’s learned along the way.
Gateway recently celebrated its tenth anniversary. What began as eight people meeting in a living room has grown into a thriving church family. From that small gathering, the church held services in a middle school and then a movie theater before moving into its current building in 2015. At the time they left the theater, Gateway welcomed around 750 people each weekend, and once they moved into their building, they saw continued growth, hosting three-and sometimes even four-services.
“Through the wisdom of our Advisory Council and pastors,” Brannon said, “they began planning for growth while the church was growing, as opposed to waiting until that growth had plateaued.”
Even as Gateway’s new building was being designed and constructed, the church’s leadership were considering the next phases of expansion.
“There was always a desire and a hope to one day maximize the land God had given us,” Brannon said.
The goal for the construction project was mission-focused: “To make room for more friends in the community to further our mission of helping our friends become devoted followers of Jesus.”
“We try to remain laser-focused on that mission,” Brannon said, “and never stray from that goal.”
Outside of the broader goal, there were some non-negotiable aspects of the design, such as the number of seats in the auditorium, parking areas, and rooms for children’s ministry. But many other design elements changed as the project went on.
Although the multiple phased planned for by the church leadership were scheduled with several years in between, the surge in growth following the initial move in the first building caused the church to accelerate their Phase 2 plans by two years.
Even though the Phase 2 expansion project was so close in time to the original construction of the building, Brannon said it was easy to see where certain decisions made in Phase 1 could have made the later phases of the project easier. However, Brannon added, you can only make decisions based on the information you have at the time. “The expansion project has provided an opportunity to address aspects that were either not included in the initial build or not optimally designed because of budget constraints or unknowns.”
Brannon said that he would recommend spending as much time as possible during the design phase, not only with the designer, architect, and engineers, but also with church staff and volunteers who are familiar with how specific areas of the facility function.
“Allow different groups to speak into the design early on,” Brannon said. “Finalize as much as you can early in the design process. The more work that you can put in on the front end to finalize the design, the less work you should have on the back end, trying to fine-tune design elements.”
In addition, Brannon urged any pastors considering a construction or expansion project to rely on the expertise of the professionals they hire, but not hesitate to ask questions or set high expectations. Taking the time to have the design thoroughly explained at the beginning of the process can save confusion and headaches later.
“Don’t be afraid to question the different costs and aspects of the project,” Brannon said. “It’s essential to have a thorough understanding of everything and to be aware of any available alternatives.”
For more information on Gateway Fellowship’s expansion process, check out this video with Pastor John Van Pay.
Thinking about expanding your facilities? AG Financial Solutions provides financing to assist with the growth of your church and ministry. Click here to learn more or contact us today at 888.247.7173 or firstname.lastname@example.org.